NATIONWIDE says it's in a good position to face future uncertainty after seeing a surge in demand for mortgages and spending from customers.

The Swindon-based building society revealed its financial results for the six months up to the end of September which showed pre-tax profit soar to £853 million - more than double the £361m figure seen that time last year.

First-time buyers received more than £5 billion in loans and ISA deposits rose by £7.1 billion.

Chief executive Joe Garner told the Adver that Nationwide's hometown will play a big part in its future plans following the opening of a new office and ongoing work on a major housing development.

He added: "Ramsbury House in Swindon is a really forward-thinking new building, we're really pleased with it. We've always been committed to Swindon - we moved there in 1970 and we are still committed to it.

"Early in the pandemic we made decisions to stand by our members and to protect our financial strength. This year we continued to support our members and have delivered a very strong half year performance, with capital reaching an all-time high.

"Profits are retained to invest in the society for the benefit of its members and wider society over the long term.

"Over the last six months we have focused on providing highly competitive products for our mortgage and savings members. These have been very popular, resulting in a successful ISA season, increased deposits, higher mortgage lending, and a larger share of the current account market.

"Our success is a testament to the strength of our mutual business model, to the hard work of our colleagues, and to the value we provide to our members.

"Given the level of uncertainty about the future, the strength of our finances gives us freedom to make choices, and confidence in continuing to support our members, colleagues and communities."

Profits were boosted by the release of £34 million of the £139 million in provisions held back during the pandemic. Finance chief Chris Rhodes credited higher margins on mortgage lending with helping to increase the building society's income.

As for the future,chief economist Robert Gardner told the Adver: "Levels of housing market activity have remained remarkably robust given the end of the stamp duty holiday, as things like mortgage approvals are still 10 per cent above 2019 averages.

"This is partly due to shifting of preferences as a result of the pandemic and because of the labour market remaining very sold indeed. In terms of looking forward, a lot is going to depend on how the wider economy performs but I've seen things which suggest things should moderate a little in the coming quarter.

"There's not many homes on the market at the moment which is likely to hold back activity, rising inflation is squeezing household budgets, and if - this is a big if - interest rates rise a little, that's likely to have a cooling influence as well.

"If recovery holds up, then activity is likely to remain pretty solid."

The 239 homes in the new eco-friendly Oakfield development will be coming onto the market next year with the first show-homes open in January and the first new homeowners moving in during the spring.

Sara Bennison added: "Swindon will be paving the way and showing how housing development could be done with more imagination and commitment to green homes and building solid communities. It will be the biggest development of new homes which all have an EPC A-rating and heat pumps. It will be blazing a trail and hopefully putting Swindon even more on the map."